Donating platelets at the Red Cross in Savannah

Yesterday I woke up late and made a delicious complete breakfast of eggs and sausage and English muffins and orange juice. We don’t usually have such an elaborate breakfast, but I needed to have a good deal of energy for the afternoon. Justin then drove us down into Savannah to the Red Cross building. They have this tiny little building that looks like it hasn’t seen updated interior decorating for about 10 years, but I imagine that’s because the money is going toward updated technologies for the donation processes and for other more noble efforts than making their building look pretty.

Anyway, I had a 1:00 appointment to donate platelets. I’ve been donating whole blood since I was in high school, and since I’m O- (the universal donor) I do try to donate when I’m able. When I called in January to set up an appointment for donating, since my availability was coming up soon, they asked if I’d be willing to donate platelets and I said I’d give it a try.

We were about 20 minutes late because of traffic and I didn’t actually get my butt in the donating chair until just about 2:00. We had to wait in the office a little for someone to be available to take me back and then had to go through the usual screening questions and checks — blood pressure, pulse, hemoglobin, etc. Everything checked out fine (my blood pressure was a little high because I was nervous, but it wasn’t so high to make me ineligible) and the nurse sent me to use the bathroom before coming back to get hooked up to the machine — because it was going to be 2 hours before I’d be able to move again.

The process for donating platelets is very different from donating whole blood. With whole blood, they stick a needle in your arm and you sit there until you’ve filled up a pint bag with blood. They bandage you up, give you snacks, and send you on your way.

With platelets, they hook you up to a machine that pulls your blood in, separates out the platelets, sticks the platelets in a bag and then sends the rest of the blood back into your arm. And it takes two hours. So you sit in this chair, being very careful not to move the arm with the needle in it because if the needle moves and the blood returning back to your arm doesn’t go back into the vein, then it’s going under your skin and that’s REALLY not comfortable. But as long as you don’t mess up and move, then it’s really super easy. They gave me headphones and a remote control to the TV and asked if I wanted to watch a movie. And I sat there watching the show and making a fist every time the machine said “draw” to keep the pressure up on my vein while it was pulling the blood out, and then relaxing when it said “return” and was sending the blood back. It was a long time sitting still and my butt was numb by the end, but otherwise, at the end of the two hours, I didn’t feel that badly.

I’ve had some trouble with donating whole blood lately — mostly psychologically, we figure — getting lightheaded and feeling a little bit faint. With the platelets process, I got cold because the blood returning wasn’t as warm as it had been when it left, and some tingling of my lips and a metallic taste in my mouth sometimes. That’s mostly because of the anticoagulant, I think they said, and it went away pretty fast after I was done. They offered me Tums, which apparently would help, but I never found it that bothersome.

Justin said my color was off when I got back out — he had to sit in the lobby the whole time, poor guy. He said I was pretty pale, so we got me some juice and snacks before leaving and then got me some hot chocolate and a hamburger on our way out of town, and by the time we got home, I was feeling a little tired, but otherwise not much effected by the whole thing.

And if I wanted, I could do it again next Saturday because you can donate platelets every 7 days.

I’m not sure if I’m going to do that, though. Partially because it’s a long time commitment; I think, all told, it was about 4 hours for us, including drive time. And while platelets are in strong demand because they have a shorter shelf life than whole blood and are important to cancer patients and burn victims, and it takes several donations of whole blood to filter out the same number of platelets, I’m not sure if it’s the best use of my ability to donate. Specifically because of the fact that I’m O-. It might be better for me to donate whole blood because it has more usability for people in need of whole blood. I need to do more research and try to figure out what is the best option for me.

Justin and I were talking about it in the car on the way home and theorized that it’s probably going to come up as a situation where one isn’t significantly better than the other. If I could commit to the time to donate platelets every week or if I could donate whole blood every 8 weeks, it’s something important to do either way. And without knowing the specific needs for the area where we live, it’s going to be impossible to really know what’s most needed, platelets or whole blood.

So maybe what I’ll do is if my donation cycle for whole blood has an extra week in between, then during that extra week, I can donate platelets and then the week after that, go donate whole blood. I’m still working out the details.

But it was an interesting experience and I thought it would be interesting to share.

The New York Blood Center put together a quick video of what it’s like to donate platelets and I’m going to throw that in here, too, so you can see what it looks like and stuff.

And I just wanted to plug this — if you’re able to donate blood or platelets, I think you really should be doing so. It’s one of those things that we can’t make in the lab and it’s an important, life-saving thing that doesn’t cost anything to give except time. Not everybody is able to do it, so those of use who can, I think, should.

Things that I’ve been doing

It’s Friday afternoon! I worked part of today to make up for lost time on Wednesday. I have some sick hours that I could use, so I didn’t get my full 40 hours in of work, but I’ll still get a full paycheck, which is nice. And not working the whole week has helped me calm down some, too, and not be quite so stressed out.

Our chiropractor appointment is in a few hours, so Justin is still working — there’s something weird going on with the checkout function on the website he hosts for a client and he’s trying to figure out why it’s happening. So once again I’m in the living room where I’m less of a distraction so he can concentrate. 🙂

Last night we watched an episode of Agent Carter, which is the mid-season break show happening in the S.H.I.E.L.D. timeslot. Not that we really care where it’s on or when because we watch it on Hulu. But it’s a fantastic show following Agent Peggy Carter, who was in the first Captain America movie and then had a Marvel short film about her and she is, in a word, AWESOME. She kicks butt and takes names, all while looking fabulous in her 1950’s bright red fedora in a black and white men’s world. This week’s episode was one of the best so far. If you’re at all into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you should be watching this show. And then S.H.I.E.L.D. when it comes back on again, too — it had a slow start, but the current season has been fantastic.

In other TV related news, because I’m really short of interesting things to chat about today, we’ve been watching Arrow, which is based on DC comics (traitorous, I know), and is also very good. Justin and I watched the first one or two together and then I got busy with other stuff and he got tired of waiting for me and sped through all of season one. But then I started watching them on my own in bursts of about 4 – 6 in a sitting (it’s winter and it’s dark outside), so he stopped and waited for me to catch up. We watched the season one finale on Wednesday when I was home and now we’re working our way through season two. It’s a fun show, but with some really glaringly obvious plot problems. Seriously, any normal family would have figured out what was going on with their son/brother/our hooded hero by now. It is a fairly violent show sometimes — it’s basically Batman with arrows — but it’s witty and Felicity is pretty much the best thing in the whole show.

And the other show we’re watching is The Legend of Korra, the Nickelodeon series following Avatar: The Last Airbender. This one is a cartoon and runs about 20 minutes each; on days I come home for lunch, we can sit down and watch this for our break. But as the episode today exampled very well, it is not exactly a kids show. There have been some very serious things happening and I’m not sure little kids would be prepared for that. As adults, it’s been a great show, though. We just finished season one on this show, too, and starting season two next week sometime.

I’ve also been reading, not just watching TV. I’m in the first quarter of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. It’s interesting, but NOT a very quick read. In fact, I couldn’t actually tell you much about the book and I’ve read more than 100 pages. There’s research studies about how people behave in different situations and how different people relate differently, but other than interesting research that’s a little complicated to get into, there’s not much to tell. I’ve found some interesting bits to relate to work and why the way I react to things (like the noise in the office) makes sense and all. So I’m going to keep working my way through, but it’s slow going.

And besides TV and reading, I’m also trying to finish up Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy on the 3DS (it’s a Nintendo handheld game, in case anyone didn’t know). I think I’ve been playing this game for about a year now and I should probably just finish it up. It’s a puzzle game, so I go to different places and meet different people and they give me puzzles to solve and work through the story line. Currently, I’m on a hunt to find 5 artifacts that will . . . do something that I can’t remember right now. It’s been a year since they said what it was for. I think it opens a door somewhere…. I’ll figure it out soon. I’ve got three of the pieces and I’m working on finding the fourth.

So yeah. That’s what I’ve been doing. Have you read or watched or played anything interesting lately?

Justin heads to San Diego, with limited success

A rundown of yesterday’s events.

  • Justin dropped me off at the doctor’s office in Bluffton for some lab work and an echocardiogram (just checking on that heart murmur again — nothing to worry about).
  • He took the car to Tire Kingdom to get the oil changed.
  • We walked to meet up in between the two places after I was done and had breakfast at Dunkin Donuts.
  • After the car was done getting maintenanced, we went to Target to pick up a few things.
  • And then we went to the chiropractor’s office for adjustments and so Justin could work on their computers. I played with our chiropractor’s toddler while Justin fixed computers.
  • We drove back to Pooler to pick up Justin’s luggage and take care of a few last minute things.
  • And then we drove up to the Atlanta airport (3 1/2 hours), stopping for dinner at Captain D’s on the way.
  • Justin got checked into the airport, we had our tearful goodbye, and he went through security.
  • I started to drive home, frantically trying to find my way to I-75 south in very busy traffic while tamping down my sadness about leaving Justin.
  • Through the app on my phone tracking his flights, I saw that Justin’s flight got delayed an hour. His layover in Dallas was just about 2 hours, to that connection would have still been possible.
  • I kept on driving home.
  • Justin’s flight got delayed an additional half hour. They’re cutting it close now.
  • I stopped for gas and then kept on driving. I got a call from Justin telling me that they were booking him on a new flight from Dallas in the morning. He’d fly to Dallas, stay at  hotel there (provided by the airline) and then fly to San Diego in the morning.
  • Justin’s flight got delayed another half hour.
  • I got a call from Justin letting me know that they cancelled the flight entirely. Whatever was wrong with the airplane was not going to be fixed. All the passengers were provided a hotel room for the night and rebooked onto flights in the morning. He was still working on knowing the details so I should call when I got home.
  • I made it home around 10:00. Dragged my tired butt into the house and called Justin. He was just getting onto a shuttle to his hotel so he called me back once he was in and settled. We talked a little and then both of us set off to bed because it had been a very long day.

Justin assures me that it’s better this way, now that his flight will arrive in the early afternoon instead of in the very late evening. This way, his aunt doesn’t need to drive to the airport so late at night. And instead of arriving in mid-morning, like the middle plan had it when he was flying from Dallas in the morning, his grandma can pick him up in the early afternoon and his aunt doesn’t need to take time away from work to pick him up in the morning. So it should all work out fine in the end. And he wasn’t in a big hurry to get to San Diego on any sort of deadline. I called him this morning on my way to the office to make sure he was awake and getting ready to head to the airport. Again. He seemed to be in pretty good spirits. I would have been FREAKING OUT. Hopefully when it’s my turn to fly out in 3 weeks, this won’t happen to me.

Until then, I’m on my own in the apartment. I have plans to finish the unpacking and getting things all nice and tidy and organized. And then I have lots of crafting projects that I want to work on. Lots of stuff to keep me busy and occupied. I even have an app that I’m going to use to try to track my sleep patterns while I’ve got the bed to myself — it tracks movement to get an idea about how well you’re sleeping, so it doesn’t work well when there’s more than one person in the bed. Hopefully, though keeping myself busy and with the help of unlimited cell phone plans, I won’t get too lonely over the next several weeks.

I’ll try to keep you posted!

Behind the scenes work

Justin is working behind the scenes to try to figure out what on earth is wrong with my website. Believe me, it’s all kinds of messed up. So if we’re up and down here over the next couple days, don’t be concerned. He’s running some diagnostics and things, trying to fix it.


Technical difficulties

We’re back up again! Sorry about being down for the last couple days. We had to renew the domain name registration and the company we’re working with is being really dumb and annoying,  so it took longer than expected.

While he’s getting it back up again, Justin’s going to look into the problems with the comments and the archives and search functions and hopefully update my WordPress version and, basically, get the place all squeeky clean and sparkly again.

There won’t be any other updates until he’s done working on that.

Thanks for your patience!